Dear past Angela,
Until now, you have lived in the world of youth. You have had very few physical problems and have believed yourself invincible, as all young people do. You have abused and ignored your body, sometimes in a very purposeful way, and now I have to deal with the consequences.
You thought the graph would always go up and to the right. But now I am able to see that no one has that happen forever. You thought that you would have plenty of time to start and restart your life, to fix all of the things, to do all of the things. The world was always full of possibility, whether or not you wanted to reach for it.
Now reaching is hard, physically and metaphorically. And feel you wasted your opportunities. I hope I won’t always feel that way, but for now I am angry at you. Why did you hide this? Why didn’t you fix it? Why couldn’t you have prevented it from happening? You never gave a thought to a future in which you might get old, be less capable, or have needs that you couldn’t deny. I’m the one who has to deal with that.
I’ve been passed this baton from you. It is full of your vague and unformed dreams of success, meaning, and triumph. Maybe you would write or do something amazing through your academic work, or your personal work, or you would have power to change and improve things, or you would think great thoughts, or you would be a success.
As I look at this baton, I wonder why I am holding it. What was I going to do with it? Perhaps that is happening because of the illness that is also part of the baton. When I turn to a task or an idea, I do often lose my place, so perhaps I have just forgotten my purpose. It nags at the back of my mind that should perhaps be running with this baton, but I am tired today, and I know I will be tired tomorrow too.
Then I face the cognitive issues, fatigue, and problems using my body. Those issues grew in you and I can’t ignore them any more. If I am still running a race, I can see that I am not going to win. So I am taking a break. And in my break, I am starting to grow other ideas meaning that seem very different from yours.
I started this letter wanting to yell at you because I am the one who is paying the price for your lack of vision. But now I see that I am really writing a letter of apology. I won’t be fulfilling your dreams or working through your plans. I’m sorry. I’m going to have to do my own thing.